This image from the RFDP shows the two Bonifant Street garages that the county is offering for the proposed arena. Credit: Montgomery County Government

Updated: Montgomery County is looking for a development partner to build a 5,000-seat arena in downtown Silver Spring, a county press release said Tuesday.

The county issued a request for development proposals (RFDP) for a “new mixed-use arena development” to be located near the Silver Spring transit center. County-owned properties at 1100 and 1101 Bonifant Drive— Parking Garage 5, Garage 55 and a connecting bridge—have been identified as the potential site for the proposed development, the release said.

In the release, County Executive Ike Leggett said the project would increase the economic vitality of Silver Spring and the county as a whole.

The 2.8-acre site being offered for private development is adjacent to the transit center, and is within walking distance of an array of dining and retail establishments, the release said. 

“It’s a marketing dream with the Red Line and Purple Line right there. The convergence is incredible,” said Tina Benjamin, a special projects director for the county.

The project would likely end up as a public-private partnership, she said. The cost was still to be determined. “That’s why we’re putting this out,” Benjamin said, “to ascertain the private sector’s interest in doing this.”


The site should be able to house high school, collegiate, and professional sporting events, as well as graduations, and children’s shows and concerts, Leggett said in the release. According to the request for proposals, site plans should include  exhibition and convention center spaces, assembly halls and auditoriums, a live entertainment venue for music, comedy, children and family shows, musicals, dance performances and private conference/dining rooms.

The arena would be managed by a sports facility management company with “expertise in the mid-size arena marketplace,” according to the RFDP. The document also said a semi-professional hockey organization would be the preferred anchor tenant, although the arena could serve as the home for one or more minor league sports teams.

“Being creative about entertainment is a good thing about Montgomery County,” County Council member Nancy Floreen said about the proposed arena.


Retail and high-rise residential structures could also be part of the project, Leggett said. The RFDP said the site should include moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs) required under Montgomery County law. MPDUs is considered affordable housing for households with incomes less than or equal to 70 percent of the average median income in the Washington area.

Benjamin said she would envision a team of different kinds of companies working together on the project, such as a commercial developer, a residential developer to handle the housing units and a company experienced in operating such facilities.

The county Department of Transportation is leading the effort to solicit viable proposals from qualified teams that will design, construct and operate an indoor sports, public assembly and entertainment facility. Responses are due by April 10.


Garage 5, at 1101 Bonifant Drive, and Garage 55, at 1100 Bonifant Drive, have a combined 123,632 square feet, according to the RFDP.

Proposals will be sent to the county’s Qualification and Selection Committee (QSC), which will rate the submissions on a 100-point scale, according to the RFDP. A submission can receive up to 30 points for its vision; 40 points for meeting the county’s objectives; 20 points for expertise and financial capacity to implement the vision; and 10 points for the proposed timeframe for completing of the development.

A submission can receive two bonus points for including 12.6 percent to 15 percent ofMPDUs among proposed housing, and four bonus points for having 15.1 percent to 20 percent MPDUs. If a submission exceeds 20 percent, it can receive five bonus points.


After proposals are received, negotiations could last until the end of 2017, said Al Roshdieh, director the county Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project.

Once the contract is signed, the design and development approval process could take two years, Roshdieh said. Then construction could take anywhere from 18 months to two or three years, he said, so the expected opening of the arena would not be until the early 2020s.

Building an arena in the county is not a new idea. An arena had been proposed over the last several years, to be built near the Shady Grove Metro Station. At one point, a site near the Metro station was considered for an Arena Football League team.